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April 12, 2005

Snap Shots: The First iPod

BushipodMonday’s White House Letter in the NYT features “W” adjusting his iPod before jumping on his bike.  I can’t look at this image without cringing, but I’m not exactly sure why. 

With Apple going mainstream, do these two icons deserve each other?  Or, is Bush trying too hard to be cool?  Is this a graphic reminder of how determined boomers are to hold on to their lost youth?  Or, does this say the line between corporation and state has become so blurred Madison Avenue can even turn the President into a billboard?  What’s your read on this?

(Click image for larger version)



(image: Paul Morse/The White House, via AP – April 11, 2005 in The New York Times)

  • http://eric.explosive.net/ ahpook

    This is as managed a picture as the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED flightsuit, and it makes me cringe on several levels:
    - that the Presidency is so overtaken by theatre and spectacle that the seat of power, the finger-on-the-button guy, has his playlist on iTunes next to Puff Daddy’s
    - that the media is so pliant, so pleased to promote the spectacle, that they report it as straight news, without a touch of (overt) irony or discomfort at the way in which they’re being used to disseminate the Message of the Day
    - that the handlers and spin-men feel this sort of hokey horseshit is necessary to pump up the fading Q and approve/disapprove numbers
    - and, finally, that the object of all of this focus, Dubya himself, ultimately is as utterly unconvincing in this ur-Yuppie role as he was playing Commander Codpiece on the flight deck. The only time I’ve ever seen the guy looking vaguely comfortable is on those video outtakes pre-speech where he’s spitting mean-spirited jokes at the “help”.
    Thanks BNN. This photo-op has been bugging me since I read about it but I hadn’t taken the time to sort through it. Now that I have, I feel.. not “better” really, but at least “less bad”.

  • http://disaffecteddems.proboards3.com moses

    The first thing that struck me was how ugly he looks. Ironically, it looks like an over-aged messenger (many messengers having a rep for using their job to traffic drugs– Bush family famous for this). So hey all you over-50s that lost your jobs & pensions, even the president can strap on a helmet and ride a bike, so what’s keeping you from taking one of those low-wage jobs in Bush’s “Ownership Society” ? (meaning that no one gets hired but works as a “self-employed” contractor and pays all the expenses, taxes, etc. for very little money)
    Also, the picture makes Bush look fat, not fit. Also like a little boy whose mommy has dressed from head to toe, but has been allowed to pick out his own own helmet and sunglasses and he thinks they are “cool”. But he’s not.
    Also, something about Bush and helmets….

  • Asta

    I agree with ahpook that this photo has a “cringe” quality about it. The body proportions are troublesome. His head seems too big for his body…oh wait, it’s finally coming to me. He’s a scarecrow, the suit is stuffed with straw and the head is a pumpkin perched precariously atop — he struggles to tighten the straps to keep it from falling off.
    The expression on his face is vacuous, and the sunglasses give him the appearance of a space alien.

  • http://blog.thought-mesh.net Annoying Old Guy

    Maybe President Bush likes to listen to music as he bikes? If so, how could he do that without you interpreting it as some sort of carefully contrived political / social statement?

  • Johanna

    Dear Annoying Old Guy -
    I don’t know about the others who visit this site, yet that’s what I do here at Bag News – I attempt to interpret.
    My expereince here is that I look “deeper” into what the media/politicals are giving to us as ‘news’.
    I examine my personal thoughts and feelings about what I am “seeing”, I question, I attempt to interpret.
    I am personally fond of this site because it gives me the chance to process in a deeper way what is being ‘fed’ to me as news. To discern what my own truth is. And it gives me the opportunity to read the views and perceptions of others. Including yours!
    Welome back Bag.
    Peace. Johanna

  • Johanna

    Dear Annoying Old Guy -
    I don’t know about the others who visit this site, yet that’s what I do here at Bag News – I attempt to interpret.
    My experience here is that I look “deeper” into what the media/politicals are giving to us as ‘news’.
    I examine my personal thoughts and feelings about what I am “seeing”, I question, I attempt to interpret.
    I am personally fond of this site because it gives me the chance to process in a deeper way what is being ‘fed’ to me as news. To discern what my own truth is. And it gives me the opportunity to read the views and perceptions of others. Including yours!
    Welome back Bag.
    Peace. Johanna

  • kali yuga

    “The only time I’ve ever seen the guy looking vaguely comfortable is on those video outtakes pre-speech where he’s spitting mean-spirited jokes at the ‘help’.”
    Here are a couple more “comfortable” moments for Little Bush:
    tinyurl.com/4h2kf
    tinyurl.com/3broe
    What a shining beacon of integrity he is.

  • http://eric.explosive.net/ ahpook

    Note also Billmon’s take: http://billmon.org/archives/001824.html

  • MaxCat

    That’s not really an Ipod. No it isn’t……that’s right it’s a one way radio communication device that they use to tell bushykins when to slow down on his bike and turn and speed up and go careful now hit the brakes……uh oh crash X*X^X_X#X@X%X$$X so now get up and deny everything…………etc. etc.

  • kali yuga

    Isn’t Baby Bush the only known human who has been unable to maintain his balance on the “idiot-proof” Segway scooter?
    tinyurl.com/yqndz
    .

  • Parallel Universe

    I find it cringeworthy because it reinforces the sense that nothing this guy does is spontaneous. He’s an empty suit, posed down to the millimeter by mindless PR bots working valiantly to extort GOP support from every last market demographic. That might have made him a tragic figure (indeed, on first sight this shot briefly evoked a sad-eyed-puppy sort of pathos for me), except that he seems perfectly happy to let them whore him this way.

  • Plif Plof

    Isn’t Apple known as the counter-culture “Democrat” company ?
    Steve Jobs is Dem’ (and was supposed to be one of Kerry’s advisers), Bill Gates is Rep’ if I remember.
    Wouldn’t it be a calculated way to catch the values of the other camp ?
    To me (I’m a Mac user), Innovation, Political Resistance, Perfection are Apple’s current values.

  • http://privacy-law.blogpspot.com TheCat

    Bush reminds me of someone here. Abby something…..
    Abby Normal….
    I don’t know if it’s the helmet, the glasses, the suit, or just the look on his face.
    Very few people look cool wearing a helmet. Even NFL players find it hard to look cool wearing one.
    Besides, he’s getting too old to do “cool.”

  • http://privacy-law.blogpspot.com TheCat

    Bush reminds me of someone here. Abby something…..
    Abby Normal….
    I don’t know if it’s the helmet, the glasses, the suit, or just the look on his face.
    Very few people look cool wearing a helmet. Even NFL players find it hard to look cool wearing one.
    Besides, he’s getting too old to do “cool.”

  • 1MaNLan

    This is just not the “George of the mission accomplished flightsuit”. It comes off even worse than the “George of the Star Trek looking jacket addressing the photo-shopped troops”, image. Knowing that his iPod list was also “leaked” to the press, with standard regular guy tunes, seems to reinforce that this is the way his handlers chose for him to look for u and i. But Why, in god’s name, Dorkify him along the way and what purpose would that serve? I’m stumped….and vaguely nauseated.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    within this visual frame there is no badge of office or other symbol of the presidency. the man’s costume hides his body; the helmet, his hair style; the sunglasses, his eyes; his expression is self-involved as his hands fiddle with equipment. many, if not most people would not recognize this puffy face / character as that of The President without literary caption textframe” telling us what we are seeing in this visual graphic image.
    as a picture of The President, or “of being presidential” this image entirely fails…
    …its intention must be that of generic human interest story, thus.
    in that regard, the visual story is ultimately un-interesting; ie., this man is doing nothing more than anything that many of us do every now and then: riding a bike.
    even more mundane: here we are looking at a man, listening to a radio.
    because the image is so un-revealing, we must be guided by whatever text context the literary artist / editor provides. in this case we are told that this man is The President, riding a bike. ergo This Knowledge should mean something more..?
    …but here, it does not. it is a lost opportunity for the man = President because he is self-absorbed : he makes no statement visually, or through his own text = Press Release advocating fitness, or anything else of any helpful or healthful import, either to us or to the media.
    perhaps there is an expectation that IF the leader does this, THEN the reader should do this, too. but even this conceit implicit does not come through very well: ultimately, the reader finds more human interest buried in image caption text trivia; ie., what iTunes does The President listen to?
    (in that regard, i would rather listen to this story, rather than look at it, or read about it :)
    as “A Man”, this image is mundane. even as “The Man”, this image is mostly meaningless. our only opportunity is to explore the literary FRAME that any caption text editor himself associates with = directs us to feel about this visual image.
    so, what does the BAGman write ?
    his literary FRAME = technic of transmission is the rhetorical question.
    (1) do two icons deserve each other?
    …put this image up (without caption) along side the (brilliant, really) “shadow with wires” that is Apple iPod image icon, and we shall see (why Apple chose shadow = universal images of fit people reacting joyfully to being wired = iPod brand; ie., we don’t need no steenking caption ;-)
    (2) is Bush trying too hard to be cool?
    …oh, this is Bush? he looks like “A Man” fiddling with his equipment. are you trying too hard to be cruel ~ by asking rhetorically if “The Man” is trying to look cool?
    (3) Is this a graphic reminder of how determined boomers are to hold on to their lost youth?
    …that’s cold, man {sigh} Feels bitter :-/ gee {gulp!} i’m glad i’m not a “boomer” ~ they must have thought they were gaining experiences, and all that time they were just losing youth!
    what is the BAGman’s caption context underlying agenda FRAME : How did he want you to feel about this image ?

  • gil

    first – this is not a “cool” thing issue…he just looks like any other biker(and i’ve seen many looking worse than him)…i guess if it was clinton he would look “soooo cool” to many….
    second – i hate “cool” – as if to dare is a religion…(get it?)
    third – hey dubia…welcome to OUR world….
    last – i invented “cool”, but i never took a patend on it…

  • Gary

    The iPod is so simple to use even W can do it.

  • Tilli (Mojave Desert)

    Why are there no photos of Bush riding a horse? I actually searched at a couple of stock photo houses and couldn’t find any. Could it be that My Cowboy cannot ride a horse?
    Re Boomer icons: Isn’t a mountain-bike just as yuppie and elitist as a racing bike or windsurfing (John Kerry)?

  • http://www.diaryofatraitor.com Planet B

    Is it just me or does he look like a bike cop in this picture? Not very statesmanlike, that’s for sure (not that he’s very good at pulling that off anyway).

  • Paul

    He looks like the old women who walks laps at the local mall. What a dork!
    No real biker wears baggy-assed crap like that. And music while biking is bad form, Mister Preznut. And watch out–those friggin’ wires will snag on uncut brush and you’ll scuff your face again.
    Once again, what looks like a communication device is only apparent because of the poor tailoring.

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